The transit strike is over. It was like house arrest. It's five miles to work, Renee has the car in another state and it's twenty degrees outside. So I stayed in. I got a lot of projects done that have needed attention for too long. And I came up with a few dumb ideas. Like watching the entire Star Wars saga. I've always wondered if the whole thing fit together as seamlessly as George Lucas tells me it does. Now I know. (all images are from rebelscum.com )
Star Wars Episode I: the Phantom Menace
This is a bad movie. Just bad. I've watched it at least ten times and it doesn't get any better. I think I understand it now. Lucas was trying to show us a happy galaxy before the Empror ruined it. Unfortunately, he confused happy with stupid. And funny with Jar Jar.
This has the least amount of story of them all. What do we learn that helps us? Anakin was a little kid. The Emperor was a senator. And C3PO was a work in progress. So what? And does anyone want to tell me why the pod race lasts over three laps? Does that help the story? What there was of it? Ewan McGregor would be good if they let him do anything. And Liam Neeson is good but he's good in everything. Better to watch him be good in Schindler's List or Batman Begins. Darth Maul is cool looking but ultimately he's not a character at all. He's a tattoo.
Rating: It doesn't deserve a rating.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Epiosde I is so bad it keeps sucking through the first hour of Episode II. Ewan McGregor is the Harrison Ford of this first trilogy. You can really tell in the second act because his scenes are the only ones of any interest. As for the other ones? Natalie Portman and Hayden Christiansen make their love scenes look like a high school play. That you keep trying to sneak out of. Even though your kid is in it.
But at least we're actually in the Star Wars universe. There are stormtroopers and Jedi and Boba Fett. And Christopher Lee always helps. Once the actual Clone War starts, it's pretty good. That's 20 minutes of a two and a half hour movie.
Rating: What do you think, 2?
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
The best of the original trilogy. Which is to say it's almost good. It actually gets off to a great start then dies right on the screen thanks to Lucas' approach to character; wooden dialogue and stillborn pacing. It takes another hour to pick back up. And Lucas isn't funny. He's way too broad and sucks all the tension out of the action scenes. General Grevious (a really cool design) comes off as a buffoon right off the bat.
Hayden Christiansen can't play brooding or happy but he can play mean. Once he turns into Darth Vader and kills nearly the entire cast, you can see the purpose of this entire trilogy. Although the first two films don't add much. My recommendation if you've never seen Star Wars is to still start with the original trilogy. Then if you want to, watch only Episode III. If you completely fall in love with Star Wars, then watch all six before you buy any merchandise.
Rating: Half past pretty good.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Any future generation who thinks Episode I was made first will get a huge slap in the face from the opening of the 1977 classic. You might as well tell them Godzilla was made before Frankenstein. This is a 70's film through and through. It has a gritty reality to it that the first trilogy doesn't. Lucas will tell you it's because the Empire has taken over. I say it's because he was using minatures and props instead of nonstop cg animation. There's crap on the floor of the spaceships and fingerprints on the droids. And I think anyone who's never seen it before will catch the few cg enhancements a mile away.
There's also a simplicity of story here that the other five don't even attempt. There's mention of the Senate and the Emperor but we don't get twenty minutes of motions and commitees like the first trilogy. Instead we get C3PO and R2-D2 scared shitless by Jawas. And I prefer it that way. Screw Episode I, this is where it all starts. And where you should too.
Rating: You kidding? It's a freaking classic!
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Oh man, this one's good. George Lucas gave up directing and shared the writing chores on this and it completely paid off. The characters are three dimensional, the jokes are funny, the Imperial theme kicks the ass of the main theme and every time the heroes are in a white place, bad things happen. This is the movie that cemented my obsession with the Star Wars universe as a boy. The subsequent films would crush that obsession.
They overdub John Ratzenberger's voice in this. Not fair but he'd have his revenge with every PIXAR movie. And Carrie Fisher had already destroyed her looks with cocaine. She's aged 10 years in the 3 between these films. Minor flaws to an almost perfect film.
Rating: Holy freaking crap in a solid gold toilet.
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
What happened? This is supposed to be the climax to the greatest film saga ever. Why is it such a squishy turd? You got Jabba the Hutt and speeder bikes. That's it. Even the lightsaber fight is lackluster. And somehow when Mark Hamill tries to play badass, he just comes off as gay.
I get the feeling that everyone stopped caring by this point. Harrison Ford wanted to be Indiana Jones. ILM wanted to be Henson. George Lucas wanted to get through his divorce. And the director he hired wanted to please too much. The end result is simply weak. Which is almost an anagram for Ewok. Makes you think.
Rating: Meh. Definitively meh.
So is it all one story? Oh God no. Lord of the Rings is one story. This is six. Two if you're feeling generous. That doesn't mean it's not worth watching. Even the crappiest movie (Episode I) has its moments. And both the original and Empire Strikes Back are great films that stand the test of time.
Storywise, it's fairly cohesive with very few inconsistencies. It certainly makes more sense than the four Alien films or the seven Nightmare on Elm Streets. But telling someone they were all written together? You wouldn't fool a potted plant with massive head trauma on that one.
Thank God the strike is over.